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11
Unloading on the Atlantic Wall

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My son, Peter, recently graduated from college, and my graduation present to him was a father & son "Band of Brothers" tour of Normandy, Verdun (a little WW1), Bastogne, Cologne and Berlin. We spent four days days & three nights in Bayeux visiting St. Mere Eglise, Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, Vierville, Utah and Omaha Beaches, and the American and German cemeteries. Just about every village & town in Normandy has its "Debarkment" museum, and Utah Beach has one of the better ones.

The museum has numerous galleries with equipment, dioramas, uniforms and all kinds of information, but for propeller heads, the highlight is surely the recently-opened glass hangar housing a full-scale replica of the B-26 Marauder "Dinah Might." B-26s were superb medium bombers ideal for ground support roles like at Utah beach. Unlike at Omaha Beach, where the bombs intended to knock out the German defenses fell mostly harmlessly behind them, the pounding at Utah smashed most of the strong points and resulted in a mostly unopposed landing.

That, and the fact that the Americans landed at the wrong beach, but one that was more lightly-defended than the intended target! In addition, the thousands of paratroops like those highlighted in the book & HBO series "Band of Brothers" kept the Utah Beach landings lower in casualties because the Germans were busy fighting inland and were unable to bring reinforcements to Utah.

"Dinah Might" is painted in the conventional "Invasion Stripes" scheme, and can be viewed up close and personal. The airy, well-lit hangar also makes taking pictures easy and convenient.

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About the Author

About Bill Cross (bill_c)
FROM: NEW JERSEY, UNITED STATES

Self-proclaimed rivet counter who gleefully builds tanks, planes and has three subs in the stash.


Comments

How is that thing a replica??? Sure looks like an actual B-26 to me.
JUN 22, 2013 - 09:39 AM
Bill, Congratulations for your son's accomplishment. Happy for your & his adventure together - memories for a lifetime! Great series of museums.
JUN 22, 2013 - 12:05 PM
nice, i'm over there next month, i may pop in at some point. paul
JUN 22, 2013 - 01:16 PM
Hi Dan Me too. I've found one ref on the Net saying it's the real thing - but that's outnumbered about 10:1 by links to it being a replica. It looks amazing, so I'd love to know the whole story... All the best Rowan
JUN 22, 2013 - 03:10 PM
A great trip for you and your son Bill! The much maligned Marauder was a great machine, once mastered by its crews, this bomber from Martin had one of the lowest loss rates of any bomber in theater, if memory serves. A magnificent replica. Russell
JUN 22, 2013 - 10:24 PM
Nice pics bill. Its a verry impressive museum. i visited it myself after the Reopening during the D-day memorials in 2012. Did you also visit the Winters memorial down the road? About the B-26, It is the real deal. It is a B-26G. with tailnumber 44-68219. It used to be in the Le Bourget museum in Paris. In colors of the French airforce. it has been Repainted to act as a B-26B tailnumber 41-31576 ’Dinah Might’ of the 553th Bomb Squadron, 386th Bomb Group In wich Col. Dewhurst had flown. The real plane was lost 18th November 1944 on a mission to the German city of St. Wendel. That day the plane was not flwon by Dewhurst but a other crew wich parachuted out safely.
JUN 24, 2013 - 06:25 AM
Wow, lots of great replies. Let me try to answer them. Leon, I think by "replica" the meaning is that this isn't "Dinah Might," but another plane painted in DM's camo scheme. It's a real B-26, but it might be a whole other plane or even a restored airframe with many refashioned parts. The new Dornier-17 "flying pencil" they just raised from the Channel is mostly just scrap metal, so restoring it with custom-made parts will make it, what? A replica? The real thing? Some weird hybrid? It's rare we have the chance to see "the real deal" like the Enola Gay that was so important, the government crated it up and stored it more or less complete. One of the facts I soon realized touring these sites is that weapons & vehicles in these museums in aren't always what they seem. The US M-1 Garands in the Bastogne Barracks, for example, are post-war or Korean versions according to my son who has inhaled the lore of that rifle. Or the 88mm FlaK gun at "Dead Man's Corner" nearby to the Utah Beach Museum outside Carentan. Is it a German Flak 37 or a Spanish-made Trubia built in Spain under license? Or a composite? Our notions about what is "authentic" and what is a replica go far beyond just paint schemes. There was enough surplus stuff after WW2 to equip several armies, and for 20 years, the residents of Normandy more or less just wanted to get on with their lives, so they didn't begin to save things and set aside museums until tourists started making D-Day trips there. So now if you wanted a Pz. IV or a DD-Sherman, you would probably have to convert whatever you could find on the surplus vehicle market and modify it to recreate something that has been lost. Does that make the resulting tank or airplane a "replica" or an "original"? Fred, thanks for the good wishes. I owe you a review of Der Massstab but have been catching up since the trip. It will be good to have my son working and off my "payroll." Paul, the Utah Beach Museum is the best I saw in Normandy (better than the Airborne Museum at St. Mere Eglise or the Omaha Beach Museum). Have lunch at the Teddy Roosevelt, Jr. Cafe outside. Omaha Beach's museum is planning a major expansion to house new vehicles, but that's a ways off. Russell, thanks, it was a GREAT trip.
JUN 24, 2013 - 04:41 PM
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